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Author Topic: Looking for advice on my portraits...  (Read 2615 times)

Gino

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Looking for advice on my portraits...
« on: December 01, 2013, 05:16:02 PM »
Hello,

Please see attached photos...what settings should I be using on my 5D MKIII (70-200mm f/2.8 IS II L) so I get everyone's face in tack sharp focus when there are multiple people in the photo?   

Thanks

P.S. I'm relatively new to photography, and I have a lot to learn, so any feedback/input would be greatly appreciated! 
« Last Edit: December 01, 2013, 05:20:19 PM by Gino »
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Looking for advice on my portraits...
« on: December 01, 2013, 05:16:02 PM »

verysimplejason

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2013, 06:20:33 PM »
Nice start.  First off, for group portaits, I advice for a smaller aperture at around F5 to F9 depending on the DOF required, e.g., how many rows of faces... The DOF button can help you determine if the DOF is big enough.  For now, you can experiment with ambient light, a flash and a reflector.  Once you feel comfortable, then you can try strobist stuffs if you really want to go for it.  Having at least one flash and a reflector really help portraiture.  The reflector is very much useful especially in bright lights to reduce shadows.  The only caveat is finding something or somebody to hold it.  Also, you can also apply the law of 3rds to make your portraits more interesting. You can find a lot of phototgraphy stuffs in cambridgeincolour.com and strobist blog.  Just search them via google.

BL

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2013, 08:27:30 PM »
hi Gino, great start!

i find that good portraits often have backgrounds that are creatively controlled, whether that means cropping to remove elements, DOF control, or composing in a way to remove distractions.

try to keep that in mind with portraits involving several people or groups, as you may not have as many opportunities to do the above. 

the first portrait for example has the corner of a picture frame that may not be intentional.

but other than that, you are well on your way to strong portraits! :D
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Hillsilly

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2013, 09:49:32 PM »
Nice photos!  From the images, its not immediately obvious how out of focus everyone is, but I note that you took the top photo at f/4.  If it's not perfect, using a smaller aperture (ie bigger number such as f/8 and f/11) will help ensure that everyone is sharper.  Above, VSJ suggests a reflector, which is a cheap and easy to use accessory to fill in some of the shadows - eg around the eyes.  If you don't have any spare hands, you can just rest this on a coffee table or the ground and angle it with some books. Or if you want to get really fancy, try using both of your flashes at the same time.
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cellomaster27

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2013, 10:19:02 PM »
First off, for group portaits, I advice for a smaller aperture at around F5 to F9 depending on the DOF required, e.g., how many rows of faces...

+1

Since you are using flashes, definitely use a smaller aperture.  For me, I try to use f5.6-8.  For two rows of people (or two planes of focus), f4 may most likely be too narrow.  Also, if you are using multiple flashes, try to get rid of the shadows on the face.  Flashes are good if you don't have someone to hold/adjust a reflector.  I like the third photo though!  Very shallow DOF and those eyes!  :))

Just a side note.. as a photographer, you should tell your subjects how to sit and pose.  That can dramatically change your final results.  If the photo is tack sharp and lighting is bomb but your subjects are looking less than best.. sucks.  You make the image so take control.  You might be doing this already, just something I learned to be very helpful concerning photos of people.  Cheers!
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spinworkxroy

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2013, 01:23:10 AM »
For me, aperture isn't a priority because that varies from lens to lens..but usually to get the sharpest of any lens, it's usually 2 stops over the max and using 5.6-8 usually works for all lenses.

When i do portraits, i look out more for:
1) Position and framing
2) Background
3) Lighting

The camera settings aren't a priority.. you can have the best lens at the best aperture with the most optimal setting but if you subjects are in a place with an ugly background, messy background or places in a bad frame, the photo will ultimately still look bad..

Even if you shot at the wrong aperture and your subjects are the sharpest, if the photo tells a story and directs the viewers eyes to the subjects instead of the background, you will still have a good photo.

When i approach a shoot, i always tell myself i'm using a PnS camera, i will choose a location first, then position the people, then frame the shot, then i start to tinker with the camera settings..always remember, the photo is the one telling the story, not the camera setting :)

verysimplejason

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2013, 03:44:28 AM »
For me, aperture isn't a priority because that varies from lens to lens..but usually to get the sharpest of any lens, it's usually 2 stops over the max and using 5.6-8 usually works for all lenses.

When i do portraits, i look out more for:
1) Position and framing
2) Background
3) Lighting

The camera settings aren't a priority.. you can have the best lens at the best aperture with the most optimal setting but if you subjects are in a place with an ugly background, messy background or places in a bad frame, the photo will ultimately still look bad..

Even if you shot at the wrong aperture and your subjects are the sharpest, if the photo tells a story and directs the viewers eyes to the subjects instead of the background, you will still have a good photo.

When i approach a shoot, i always tell myself i'm using a PnS camera, i will choose a location first, then position the people, then frame the shot, then i start to tinker with the camera settings..always remember, the photo is the one telling the story, not the camera setting :)

There are camera settings that can be worried later but aperture isn't one.  Aperture is important because it also defines your subject and framing.  It is also an important part in determining how strong your light (strobist stuffs) needs to be (though this appears just to be secondary to DOF).  As you have said, it's important to direct the viewers to the eye of the subjects but what if your DOF is too shallow and you weren't able to render the eye properly?  Aperture will also define how much background you want to blur or not which is also significant to framing.  So yes, you will have to worry of your camera setting during your positioning and framing at least when it comes to aperture along with the other 2 elements of exposure (shutter speed and ISO).  The rest of the camera settings like WB, picture styles, etc..., you can worry during PP if you shot raw.  So shooting raw is another advice most professionals can give as it allows you to set other camera parameters during PP.

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2013, 03:44:28 AM »

wickidwombat

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2013, 06:37:19 AM »
forced smiles are probably one of the hardest things to conquer early on
you have to learn techniques for getting people to give their natural smile without thinking
search youtube there are many techniques there you can try, look up bambi cantrell on youtube
she has a great free session on posing and lighting portraits with some nice tips there as a good place to start

edit:

here you go
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcP9MrXbgxA
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docsmith

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2013, 06:56:03 AM »
Hobbyist here, but one other thought would be to give yourself more distance between the subjects and the background.  Even at more narrow apertures, that will help with blur.  I'd also play around with bouncing the light off of different directions.  If I can, I often set myself up with a corner behind me so I could bounce the flash off multiple surfaces.  But I've since moved to a two flash + umbrella set up.

chauncey

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2013, 08:27:22 AM »
I abhor competition...the background should never compete for attention with the subject.  Distance the subject from the background.
Use something like a color checker to insure accurate skin tones.
Have some wise input concerning the subjects choice of clothing and colors, in this case, the blues tend to be overwhelming.

Rather than listening to the clowns that dwell herein, myself included...there's a ton of YouTube videos on this very subject.

drolo61

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2013, 11:35:40 AM »
Lots of valid feedback already
So I will add to composition
Busy background in "all familly picture":
Clean up walls, get subjects further away from wall (if needed, move furniture)
Kid in the middle, rather than the somehow akward off center position
Be patient, wait for the little guy to smile ;-)

"Mom & kid":
Lots of empty (=non interesting) space left of mom.
If you intend to crop in tight, rather open space to the right of kid, as mom leans over to the right. Use that "momentum" for framing. Would either crop mom's hand fully out or try to keep it "intact" (kind of try not "to cut flesh")

"Kid"
This one is very nice, again I would try to not go that close to the body to crop of arms  (either in post or while framing the picture)

The colours seem a bit oversaturated.

If these are your start-up portraits, you are on a good learning paths.
Keep going

Olaf
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RustyTheGeek

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2013, 02:59:08 PM »
Lighting and background is usually the biggest challenge.  To get the better apertures, you need enough light and that light needs to be flattering, not ugly fluorescent lights, etc.  Hence the need for flash and then the need for large modifiers.  To get a good background you either need distance from the background or create it with an artificial background.  All of that takes space.

So what to do????  GO OUTSIDE.  Use the outdoor natural light and move around in a park or other pleasing setting at good times of the day (morning and evening) and use shaded areas when the light is too harsh.  Experiment.  Make sure you still use fill flash when outdoors.  Try to use a decent speedlite.  Keep it on camera at first and then get flash modifiers/stands later that will work with your speedlite and get some inexpensive remote triggers that support ETTL like the ones from Yonghuo.  Get the camera low and try using the sky as a background or trees.

Another advanced technique is to use a ND filter or Polarizer to reduce the light and allow a more shallow DOF for up close portraits, etc.

I also agree with reading or watching online videos.  Lots of ideas can be seen/found.

I like the advice already given about the picture telling the story regardless of the camera, settings, etc.  Keep that in mind and HAVE FUN.  The best pictures of anyone will happen when everyone is relaxed and at ease.  Not feeling awkward around the camera.  If you're stressed, your subjects will be too.  So relax and have fun.

TAKE A LOT OF FRAMES!  You never know how the picture truly looks until you are sitting at the computer and you discover all kinds of things you missed.  Someone blinks, has hair out of place, background failure, trees, branches, poles, whatever growing out of a head, bad smiles, etc.  So take a lot of frames in several poses and settings to help overcome this.

Finally, get Lightroom and you'll be amazed what you can fix and recover when things aren't going your way.
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spinworkxroy

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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2013, 03:02:42 AM »
Honestly, i'm a lazy portrait photographer..
I agree that you should first get your settings right in camera and not after.
However, i believe that you can make a sharp photo blur but not a blur photo sharp.
I prefer to get what i cannot edit in post production correct in the first place..hence the framing and the scene and the background etc.

I almost always shoot at f5.6-8 even if i have an f1.4 lens. I also seldom use multiple strobes to light up any scene. I just use at most 2 usually just 1 strobe to light up the entire scene so it is exposed correctly.

EVERYTHING else, i do in photoshop. I adjust lighting, add fake lights, add bokeh, add blur etc..that's what i usually do in post production..Granted i spend more time in post that i would if i set up the thing correctly in the first place, but more often than not, i only envision the image once i get home.

Here's an example of what i mean..I just set the scene, pose the model, ensure the entire photo is lit and exposed correctly, then change everything in photoshop


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Re: Looking for advice on my portraits...
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2013, 03:02:42 AM »